VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
WE HAVE heretofore referred to some earnest people who are evidently ensnared by the Adversary into believing that they are enjoying a restoration of the gifts whereby God blessed and established the Christian Church in the first century. Their strong delusions continue to increase under a spirit power which, we believe, is not from God nor from the dead, but from the fallen spirits, the fallen angels. In addition to the speaking with tongues and the miraculous healing of the sick and the seeing of visions, they now have spirit manifestations. Their latest claims, reported in their religious journals, are that the Lord Jesus, on several occasions, has appeared in their midst at their meetings, has been seen with the natural eye, etc.
That these people are earnest and evidently honest only increases our sorrow for them. (For dishonest people we have comparatively little sympathy.) We fear that a later development will be spirit manifestations of a still more pronounced type. The fallen angels are evidently desirous of deluding the whole world. They have certainly had great success, so far as many of the false doctrines are concerned. And as we read the Scriptures we believe they will for a time have a still greater influence in human affairs shortly. Those of our readers who have contact with any of these deluded people should point out to them the Apostle's words, "Believe not every spirit," and should remind them that the fallen angels are "lying spirits," and that the entire confidence of God's people should be in the teachings of the Scriptures.
The Scriptures clearly testify that those who possessed the gifts of the Spirit in the early Church received them from the Apostles by the laying on of hands, so that when the Apostles were dead and also those upon whom they had laid their hands and communicated the gifts, it ended those "gifts" in the Church. And the next step of progress was the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit, as St. Paul most clearly points out.--I Cor. 13:8.
UNREST IN CHINA--BRITISH UNFAITHFUL
Bishop W. B. Lewis, of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Foo Chow, China, discussing recent trouble and present unrest in the Canton Province, says:--
"The real root of the trouble is because the Chinese government has suppressed the growing of poppy. In 1906, England and China entered into a treaty to suppress the opium traffic. The terms of the treaty were that England was to decrease the importation of opium one tenth each year and China agreed to suppress the growing of poppy in the same ratio.
"China has lived up to the terms of the treaty and England has not. In consequence of this the price of opium in China has increased fourfold and the result is that millions of dollars are flowing out of the country and nothing is coming in. All the time England is profiting by the condition as it now is. The residents of a large part of Southern China do not understand the treaty and hence the rebellion was brought about. However, the present condition will not continue much longer, as the British government cannot face the world because of failure to abide by the terms of the treaty. I believe the English are coming to the realization that this condition cannot go forward, and I believe developments will occur in the near future. The final outcome will be that England will have to abide by the terms of the treaty and then the [R4878 : page 355] opium traffic will cease. The Chinese government will effectively suppress the growing of poppy."
THE MATTER WITH THE CHURCHES
"What's the matter with the churches?" says the Toledo News-Bee: "It's only those who will not see who are sanguine enough to maintain that there is nothing the matter with them. For it is blazoned in actual fact, so that he who runs may read, that the churches, judged merely by what they have done outside of the spiritual realm, in the way of civic and social betterment, have failed thus far to show adequate results for the enormous sums they have invested in buildings, and for the preaching of the gospel at home and abroad.
"Dr. Thomas E. Green, writing in Hampton's on 'What Is to Become of the Preacher?' says:--
"'That of the 90,000,000 people in this country, 32,936,446 are church members (census report of 1906).
"'That of the 1,440,000,000 people in the world, a billion, one thousand million, are not Christians.
"'That church attendance is falling off. It needs neither figures nor argument to establish the fact that church attendance and church worship are in a condition of decline. The experience of any community is ample proof.
"'That since 1905 the collections in London churches have fallen off 35 per cent.
"'That not five per cent. of the workingmen of England and America attend church. [R4878 : page 356]
"'That the supply of ministers is rapidly falling off.'
"So much for that part of it. Now for the other: The average American minister earns less than half the wages of the average American bricklayer.
"Americans give more liberally for missions than for home work, but for every dollar put in the 'foreign field' for actual mission work, more than another dollar is spent in administration. Of the ten million dollars contributed in this country for missions last year, less than five million dollars got to the 'heathen.'
"Taking a certain Wisconsin town of 2,700 inhabitants as representative, we are shown 13 church organizations, the largest numbering 225 communicants, the smallest 25, keeping up 11 church buildings at an aggregate cost of $10,400 per year. 'There are in the United States 14 kinds of Baptists, 24 kinds of Lutherans, 15 kinds of Methodists and 12 kinds of Presbyterians,' says Dr. Green.
"To cap the climax with a final absurdity he cites the fact that there is a lone southern Methodist church on the Manitoba border and an equally lonesome northern Presbyterian church languishing in the beach of the gulf of Mexico."
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The Toledo News-Bee concludes its editorial above by saying, "It seems clear as daylight that the salvation of the sects lies in Christian co-operation."
Just so. The disease is apparent, but the real cause and the proper remedy are not discerned. Why should we plan for the salvation of the sects? Should we not rather strive for the salvation of the people who for so long have been confused and misled in various directions by the sects and the creeds of the "dark ages"? If everybody agrees that our Lord and the Apostles recognized only the true Church, "the Church of the living God whose names are written in heaven," and if all the division of God's people into sects and parties with contradictory creeds has been wrong, why should any of us seek to uphold or to save the sects from destruction? Surely all true Christians should unite in abolishing sectarianism, each by destroying his own creed fences, which separate God's professed people into various more or less antagonistic little companies.
The proposition of Church Federation is merely a method of sect salvation, preservation, the very thing which no true Christians should desire. We are told that Federation would ignore doctrines altogether and merely make of the different sects a social and working combination along lines upon which all could agree. But is this the Divine order? Would not this be substituting the commandments of men, the Federation, for the doctrines of Christ? Should we not, therefore, rather remember the Apostle's words which assure us, not only that there is but one Church of the living God, but also that there is but one Lord, one faith and one baptism, one God and Father over all and one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?-- Eph. 4:5,6.
Manifestly it is our duty to abandon all of our various creeds formulated after the death of the Apostles and to go back to the words of Jesus, the Apostles and Prophets and to accept and believe these as the Divine revelation of the Divine will and purposes. Some may incline to say:--
YOU ARE A CATHOLIC!
In the sense that the word catholic signifies general instead of sectarian, the charge would be correct; but we are not Roman Catholic any more than Anglican Catholic. Nor were Jesus and the Apostles Roman, Greek or Anglican Catholics. They were catholics in a broader sense. And we strive to take a similar position, ignoring national as well as sectarian boundaries and lines and authority. The broad term Christian, without any limitations, includes the catholic or general thought and is quite sufficient for us and, we believe, should be sufficient for all of the followers of Jesus.
But someone will ask, When you speak of the one true Church, do you not necessarily mean the Roman Catholic Church? Oh, no, my friend; there were plain Christians before there were Roman Catholic Christians or Christians of any of the other various branches. We refer to the one Church which Jesus and the Apostles established on the foundation of their teachings as found in the Holy Scriptures. It did not ignore doctrines, but admonished that we should contend earnestly for the "faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), which would be sufficient for the man of God.--2 Tim. 3:17.
The one Church of Christ, inspired by the true faith, the true doctrines of the Bible, will be bound together by the cords of love, fellowship, brotherhood, "that they all may be one as Thou, Father, and I are one." (John 17:11.) As our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus do not need to be bound together by fear or threats, so likewise the true members of the true Church will need no such bondage to make them one in spirit or in doctrines, for, as the Master said, "Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free." The secret of this true union is that each member of the true Church is fully consecrated to God and His service and is a saint striving for perfect mastery over his flesh and is begotten of the Holy Spirit and its holy desires for righteousness and truth, taught and providentially overruled and guided to a knowledge of His will and an understanding of His Word. Thus "they shall all be taught of God." This is the Holy Catholic Church. All of its members will be taught of God.
Ah, you say, such a Church of saints would not number four hundred millions as we now boast!
No, we reply; it would be as the Master declares, a "little flock" in comparison to the masses of humanity and the masses of Christianity. But that "little flock" would be burning and shining lights in the world, as the Master declares. The human organizations for benevolent, educational, charitable and other good works there might still be, but, disillusioned, they would no longer style themselves churches, but would know that there is but the one Church.
When we learn to look from the Bible standpoint we see that inside and outside of all the different sects and parties and creeds of Christendom there is just such a "little flock" of saintly footstep followers of Jesus. These are the true Church as God sees it. The human institutions called churches, while containing some of these members of the true Church, are merely social clubs and not churches. There is but one, and it is scattered everywhere, and yet, "The Lord knoweth them that are His." --2 Tim. 2:19.
THE CHURCH'S WORK FOR THE WORLD
Ah! but, says one, where would come in the Church's work for the world? We reply: God's work for the world will be accomplished through the Church after the Church shall have been completed, changed, glorified, in the Kingdom. God's work in the present time is not the salvation of the world, but the salvation of the Church; the world's salvation will follow by and by during the reign of Messiah for a thousand years, when Satan shall be bound; then every evil influence will be restrained and every good influence let loose.
Now the Church is to make herself ready as the Bride [R4878 : page 357] of Christ. (Rev. 19:7.) Now the individual Christians are called upon to make their calling and election sure. Only incidentally, and not as their chief work, are they to let their light shine before men. Now the Lord's blessing through Apostles, Prophets, evangelists, teachers, is exclusively for the edifying of the saints for the work of the ministry, until we all come to the full stature of the Man--the Christ, the Anointed, of which Jesus will be the Head and the Church the members in glory. (Eph. 4:12-14.) God is not now dealing by force to compel every knee to bow and every tongue to confess. That will be by and by. Now the still, small Voice is calling the saintly class to separation from the world, to fellowship [R4879 : page 357] with God, to joint-heirship with Jesus in the Kingdom soon to be established "under the whole heavens."
What the world has so much been calling for will soon be realized, namely, a Church Triumphant, a Church in glory and perfection, a Church empowered of God to put down sin, to correct and chasten the sinners and to lead as many as possible of them into ways of righteousness unto everlasting life.
Reverting, then, to the question at the head of this article, "What is the Matter with the Churches," our reply is that the difficulty is due to the formation and perpetuation of various human systems, each trying to palm itself off as the one true Church of Christ. Some time after the formation the self-deception gave way before the saner thought that none of them surely could make such a claim. The next step amongst the Protestant sects was to say, If you will recognize me, I will recognize you, and we will claim that Christ has many churches and ignore His statement that there is but one. This policy has been successful for quite a while. And it would even now be successful were it not that the eyes of human understanding are opening and the inconsistencies of all the various creeds of Christendom are recognized. Now it begins to be manifest that for centuries there has been something radically wrong with the faith, the hope, the baptism and the names of all the different sects; now true Christians of all denominations are perplexed and groping after truth, and so perplexed that they scarcely realize that, to find it, they should go back to the Fountain Head, Jesus and the Apostles and their teachings.
Meantime, also, the masses of Christendom are becoming awakened--they are going into modern infidelity called Higher Criticism, New Thought, Theology, Theosophy, Evolution, Christian Science, etc. Thus, between the perplexity of the saints looking for truth and the nominal masses looking for the truth in other directions, no wonder the sectarian systems are uninteresting except to the comparatively few who, as ministers, officers, etc., "feel it their duty" to attend meeting and to profess creeds which they do not believe.
The real duty of every Christian is to take his stand for the Truth and against sectarianism and its base misrepresentation of the Divine character. With the creed fences down these, the saintly few, would soon come together under the attractions of the green pastures and still waters of the Divine Word. The charities of the world would progress very much as now because the poor, the Master said, we would have always with us until His Kingdom would be established, which will destroy poverty, as well as overthrow sin and death.
THE OUTLOOK IN GERMANY
There is not a serious political mind in Germany today that does not consider the internal conditions as very grave, however different the political views may be. The leaders of the People's party at the decisive debates on the suffrage bill, one after another declared with greatest emphasis that they viewed the situation as very serious; that we are approaching very serious times; this conviction was also shared by the Social Democrats. In fact, the view has already been expressed that we are in an era of revolutionary legislation, of immense and inconceivable political, social and ethical transition. We merely mention this in support of our conviction that the internal conditions of Germany are in reality very serious, and we regard it not as a refutation, but as a confirmation that the sentiment prevailing in Germany is to some extent nervously hysterical and may be characterized partly by that expression which stamped the period preceding the French revolution--apres nous le deluge (after us the deluge).--Rheinish-Westphalian News.
PERSECUTION OF JEWS CONTINUES
In Russia the tale of Jewish persecution continues to unfold itself. The recent political crisis was hailed by the Russian Jews as promising some relief, for it was thought that whatever resulted, the condition of affairs could not grow worse and no regime could exceed in cruelty that of M. Stolypin. In the result, M. Stolypin has remained in office and his myrmidons in different parts of the empire continue their foul work. The order has apparently gone forth that the conscience of Europe is no more to be shocked by massacres, but the same object is to be attained more thoroughly and without any scandal by means of relentless persecution.
Odessa is in particular the center of Jewish persecution of the most heartless description. The anti-Semitic governor of that city has already succeeded in creating a mass of Jewish pauperism, estimated to number 80,000, and at the same time, by seizing the management and the funds of the local Jewish charities, the means of coping with this appalling misery have been destroyed. The Universities of Russia have long been practically closed to Jewish students, but there has been no hindrance of their studying as external students.
Almost the last act of the government previous to the recent crisis was, however, the exclusion of the Jews from the ranks of external students, and nothing that has since happened has served to alter this decree. Thus, the Russian government has now succeeded in depriving 6,000,000 of the most enlightened of the inhabitants of the empire of all means of obtaining higher education. It seems as if the Policy of Pobedonostcheff still holds good --the solution of the Jewish question by the destruction of one-third of the Jewish population, the conversion of a second third, and the migration of the rest.--Exchange.
The Methodist Recorder notes the lament of Rev. Thomas Payne, D.D., respecting the mischief wrought by the theory of Evolution, especially among the young, and of the teaching of other false doctrines in Sunday Schools and Bible Classes and from many pulpits, as well as by professors in schools and colleges:--
"He asserts that owing to this many young men have given up their reading of the Bible and other books of a religious nature, and gives instances in which young people from Christian families have come home from schools and colleges of this description incipient Agnostics. His avowed object is to help such by leading them back to faith in God and confidence in His Word. He charges the Theory of Evolution with being the chief cause of most of the erroneous teaching of the time; and to its unquestioned acceptance and hasty application he traces the mischief that he laments."